The Journey, Not the Goal

What makes for a good day?

What are the ingredients for personal fulfillment?

Is is just the pursuit of a worthwhile goal, or is there something else?

“The pursuit of a worthwhile goal” almost sounds like chasing a butterfly through the woods. It is a beautiful thing. The journey takes you through some amazing natural constructions.

But, your focus is on the butterfly, because to lose sight of it is to lose it altogether.

The butterfly flutters here and there, jinking its way to whatever random nectar wafts its way to its waiting receptors.

So, the pursuit of a worthwhile goal may turn out to be a focused chase of a random event.

This is not an acceptable condition.

Rather, we should take that same journey through the woods, but our destination is the craggy mountaintop in the distance – the one covered in glaciers and boulders as big as houses.

There might not be a trail all the way up. Someone has blazed one partway, and the crowds have trampled a wide thoroughfare in some parts.

But the journey is ours to plan and to conduct.

We see the goal. We draw it, paint it, project it on our walls. We view it through telescope, binoculars. We find maps for the surrounding area and pore over them until we know every stream, valley, ridge, and copse. We visit the area to find suitable launch spots and trail-heads. We inquire of locals about known and secret vistas along the way.

We mark off our trail on our maps, plot out the stops along the way, calculate our caloric burn and how much food to bring.

We manage our gear lists so we can carry it all. We arrange for transport, for food and water caches along the way.

We arrange for time off, for care for the empty house, for emergency contact.

We communicate our plans and goals to select individuals so we’ll have a support team.

We save our money so we can purchase equipment and supplies.

We plot our every daily milestones after calculating our pace. The map is well-known to us, though we’ve never set foot there.

We take our cameras and painting kits.

We want not only to reach the top, but to inhale the flowers and pines along the way. We want to etch the vistas into our memories, to experience the thrill of walking among a herd of elk, of eating fresh-caught trout for breakfast, of touching living stone, drinking from icy glacier-melt.

We don’t just want to reach the top, we want to live the journey.

We also take side-trips and linger in spots more beautiful in life than in our original plans.

We adjust and adapt as circumstances come to us.

That is what the pursuit of a worthwhile goal is about.

Not a mindless rush to the top, ignoring all but the goal, but an aware adventure that pays far more in the journey than the goal alone can provide.

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